Iqbal was one of the people we looked at during our theme on justice and standing up for what is right.
Iqbal was taken to work in a factory from the age of 4 as he had been used as security against a loan taken out by his parents. Several years later, he attended a Builder’s Union meeting and discovered that for the past few years, he had been kept working illegally but due to a corrupt government and police force the law had never been enforced. He spoke to the crowd and they rallied to get him and his fellow slaves free.
Iqbal then traveled the country and the world, speaking out against child slavery and it is estimated that over 3000 children escaped after hearing his story. He also traveled abroad to tell his story and wanted to become a lawyer to fight for all bonded children to be free.
At the young age of 13 he was shot dead.
We read his story in the book Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan it is suitable for under 9 year olds. For older children or for a more in depth background, this graphic explores his life in more detail.
Some of the questions I offered were…
Is there anything unfair in the story? Is it right for people to own children? Should children be forced to work if they can earn money to help their family? What kind of jobs do you think people would use children for?
We discussed that children could be used to go into small places, or for delicate work such as in the carpet factory or stitching small things. Also that it was not very long ago that it became illegal for children to do dangerous work in the UK and that even their great grandparents may have started working rather than go to secondary school. We rounded up with the realisation that in many places in the world, children are still being forced to work rather than be able to play or to go to school.
We did paper weaving for the craft activity in this session. We did simple weaving but for older children or adults it is easy to adapt to more complex designs using larger pieces of paper and/or thinner strips.
There is a good tutorial for simple paper weaving here and here is some inspiration for more advanced designs.